Drinking more water (part 2)

January 6
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A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about tips for drinking more water and I feel like it is time to talk about it again. I have seen a ton of people both in person and online talking about how they want to drink more water this year and I figured I could share more about how I drink 70+ ounces of water a day.

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I get my water consumption in via both “chug sessions” and sipping throughout the day. I know ” chug sessions” sounds weird, but that is just what it is. I fill a glass at the sink with room temp water and chug the entire glass, sometimes two. I know for a lot of people this sounds horrible, but it gives me a chance to get it done. I just stand there and drink. (For those of you wondering, WATER is the only thing I drink this way. I could not chug a beer if my life depended on it.) I like using room temp water as it goes down easy and does not chill my body. I try to do this a few times a day with the most important chug sessions right after I wake up and right before bed.

My second method of drinking (WATER, people) is throughout the day. I like to keep water at my desk at work or near me at home. For me, the key is to have a cup or bottle you really like. What works for you really depends on your needs, but I personally LOVE my $3 reusable Starbucks tumbler. I know it is simple, but it works for me. I can have it at my desk, at home, in the car, or on the go. At 24 ounces I only have to refill a few times a day and I am good to go. Yes, it is sitting next to me right now, and yes, I did just drink some water.

A typical day for me starts with a 10 oz. glass of water from the tap a few minutes after I get up. At work I generally fill my 24 oz. cup twice, sometimes three times. I then drink 10 oz. of water at the sink before dinner, a glass with dinner and the at least one more “chug session” before bed.  No wonder I am in the bathroom so much. (Sorry) Try adding a glass of water at a few of these times if you’re still struggling with getting enough water.

I know a bunch of people carry water with them but still feel like they don’t drink enough. My only real tip for that is to double your sips. If you go in for one sip, take two. Keep going. You will start to get used to drinking more and it will become natural. Hate the taste of water? Check out this post I wrote about making easy infused water with the help of your freezer.

Below are a few water bottle/cup options you might like. The Starbucks one I have is only sold in stores.
water bottle options
1. Like your water cold? This one stays cold all day.
2. Here is a great option if you want glass.
3. Love S’well bottles? Go for it!
4. Want a visual of how much your drinking and when to drink it? Try a motivational bottle.
5. These are super cute. Go for the 24 oz.

Please note: These are affiliate links. If you make a purchase from the link I receive a small commission which helps fund this site.

Oh, and if you need more tips, this post from 2016 is pretty good.

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2019 Planner Lineup

December 28
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And now, the post you’ve all been waiting for…  (Ok, maybe three of you.) My 2019 planner lineup. Each year I like to sit down and reevaluate what I am using to ensure I am both getting the most bang for my buck as well as using products that really do help me. I don’t want to find myself wasting time trying to use more planners than I need or creating more work for myself. Here is what I came up with for this year:

 

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At home I will be using my DIY Happy Planner. I created this planner for myself when I didn’t love the other Happy Planner options. Read more about it here. I use this planner for all things home such as meal planning, activities, to-dos, my husband’s schedule and more.  This planner spends most of its time on my desk and is a daily reference and a great help through the week.

 

At work I use a Agendio planner housed in a Kikki binder. I love Agendio because they are completely customizable. Add whatever you want and have the planner start whenever you want. I created this custom planner to fit my needs with lots of space for notes and even an area to write down things for at home.  Read more about my experience with Agendio here.

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I keep my work planner at work to help separate my time and I love how this allows me to utilize two different planner styles. For many people one planner is enough, and I have done that in the past, however I really enjoy the work/home separation. For those of you who are self employed or work from home one planner might be enough for you.

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This year I will be using a digital calendar to help keep organized. I don’t like carrying a physical planner everywhere, but I do want to know important dates at a moment’s notice. I have started using Google Calendar which integrates perfectly for home, work, my iPhone, and Apple Watch.  This really helps when I want to jot down a date for a future event or appointment on the go. I have already utilized it a few times and was glad to have access to both my future plans as well as a place to add events. Keep an eye out for future posts about how I integrate this calendar into my planning system.

 

As I have mentioned here and there, I have started using PowerSheets by Lara Casey for goal planning. This is my first year using this system and I will share here about my experiences.  Although this is not as much of a “planner” I wanted to include it here as part of my lineup as it is a resource I will be using regularly.

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I know this is a lot of “stuff.” For most of you, one planner is enough but I feel that this setup really ends up being easier for me than one. Look at your life and see what you feel is good for you, everyone is different and needs really do vary. I know some people use even more planners based on their lives and howe they separate things. My goal is always to be as organized and efficient as possible and if additional planners make you less productive then it is time to find another system.

 

See how I use these this year b y following along on Instagram.

 

 

2019 Planner Guide

December 23
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Still looking for a planner for 2019? I’ve got you covered. Even though it is last minute, there are still tons of great planners out there, and even if you receive it after January 1st, it is fine, you can start planning any day.

First you need to decide what kind of planner you need. Most of my readers are interested in weekly and daily planners. Read a little bit about each of these here and then decide on what you feel is best for you.

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Weekly:

Weekly planners are great for people who like to plan out their week, see the entire week in one view, and mostly use their planner to to record appointments, events, meals, and some tasks. There is not a lot of space for notes, but you might not need notes in your planner. Like stickers? These planners are easy to decorate and super cute. See below for my favorite options for 2019.

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Daily:

Daily planners are great if you need a lot of space to write. Most daily planners have a section for your daily schedule to write down meetings and appointments as well as a section for notes or a long to-do list. One of the downsides of this planner format is that you don’t get to see the entire week in one view. Although you can for sure decorate a daily planner, most users are more focused on their to do list than stickers.

 

Have you decided on which one you need? Here are a few of my favorites for each:

 

Weekly:

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The Happy Planner is one of my favorite budget-friendly weekly planners. Grab one for 2019 here. One thing I love about this planner is that it uses the disc system so you can add, remove, and move pages at will. To see how I use mine click here.

Looking for something with a coil? The Erin Condren Life Planner is for you. This classic weekly planner is sturdy, bright, and super popular. Although these are a little more spending, you can get $10 off yours here.

Looking for something ASAP? I have created a list of weekly planners available on Amazon with two-day prime shipping. This list includes Moleskin and other brands. I have not used these planners, but they have good reviews.

 

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Daily:

One of my favorite daily planners come from Day Designer. These daily planners are coil-bound and super elegant. (Especially the marbled cover!) Their flagship line includes planners that will last the year and look great on your desk.

Looking for something a little more simple? Check out a Simplified flagship planner by Emily Ley. These planners are similar to the Day Designer but a little more simple and in some more fun prints. They also sell weekly planners that are bound like a book.

I am currently using a daily planner from Agendio. These planners are fully customizable so you can select when it begins and what sections are included. You can even add dates to a calendar so they are printed on the planner itself.  See more about mine here. Oh, and did I mention they can be bound, coiled, or sold as inserts? WIN

NOTE: These three brands sell weekly planners as well, so if you’re looking for a great week, check them out as well.

 

So I hope this little roundup has been helpful. If you have more questions or what to show off your choice, tag me in a photo on Instagram! I’m @amberdownsblog

 

Note: Affiliate links are in use on the post. I may receive a small commission for purchases made. This does not affect your price or my opinion of these items. 

 

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My 2019 home planner

December 16
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Note: Affiliate links are in use on this page. I have linked to Amazon whenever I can because their prices and 2 day shipping is great. I will receive a small commission from purchases made from these links but that will not affect your price. 

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Well friends, it is time to share my finished (for now) 2019 home planner. My home planner is what I use for my personal life and some blog information. I use this planner for meal planning, grocery lists, keeping my husband’s schedule, special events, and more. I like to think of this planner as a tool for keeping this part of my life sane. I also include important work events in this planner so that in the mornings I am ready for them before I leave the house.  This planner sits on my desk at home so I can glance at it in the morning as well as in the evening and do my best to keep on top of the crazy in life.

I have been using the Happy Planner for this use for several years now, but when the 2019 planners came out I was not in love with any of them. I was going to change to a different brand until I ran across the “Super Mom” planner layout. This non-traditional planner layout really made sense to me for my uses, but was filled with a ton of “mom stuff” that does not apply to me. I shared about that on Instagram and my followers informed me that there was a non-mom “dashboard layout” extension pack of this planner layout so I went and grabbed that up. Note to self, I need to go grab another one. 

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After I got the extension I realized that I could make this planner into a new form that really could work for me. I like to keep notes, plans, goals, and more in my planner so I might as well carve out a real space for them.

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So for this planner I created following sections:

I wanted this planner to look and feel classy and professional so I purchased silver metal discs and a black cover. Although a little more pricy, these pieces will hold up for the entire year and beyond. I still have my teal cover from a few years ago and it looks great. And of course, I always keep my punch around so I can add whatever pages I’d like to my planner.

I also grabbed these cute travel inserts and meal plan pages to incorporate into my weeks as needed. I used plastic dashboards as dividers for the sections as they are nice and sturdy and I liked the tabs on top.

Although 2019 has not even started, I have been gravitating to this new planner for note taking. I love that I now have a great place to write and store these notes for future use. I can for sure see that this planner will be an integral part of my 2019 and will look super classy sitting on my desk.

Have you picked your 2019 planner yet?

 

Note: Affilate links are in use on this page. I will receive a small commission on purchases.

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Powersheets by Lara Casey

December 10
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I have been aware of Lara Casey and her Powersheets for a few years now and have eyed them every year as they are released but I never bit the bullet and bought them. This year I Finally changed that.

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Powersheets are designed to help you realize your goals and then make them happen. Lara (Author of Make it Happen and Cultivate) guides you through a workbook that gets you to dig deep into your needs and desires. Once you have gone down to the core of your goals she then provides steps to guide you into creating action steps for getting these things from goals to action to done.

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Although the Powersheets look like a planner, they are really more of a guide and accessory to your planner. With weekly, monthly, and quarterly checkins to help you see where you are and gauge progres. I store my Powersheets on my desk within easy sight so that I access them regularly.

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Every Sunday I sit down and plan out the next week. This is a time where I go over schedules, meal plans, goals, and tasks. I will add time with my Powersheets to this weekly meeting with myself to check in on where I am at with my goals.

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I have not yet gone over the preliminary sheets in my Powersheets as I am waiting until mid-December, but I plan to take some time, grab some coffee, and really sit down and connect with myself and find my real goals and intentions. I will share again here about it once I find my goals. I may not share all of them as they will be personal, but I plan to share some as well as more about this process.  I truly hope that this investment helps me find the best in myself and to get the most of of my next year.

Powersheets are on sale now for 2019. Join me in making this the best year yet by being intentional with our goals.

Have you used Powersheets? What did you think of them?

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Please note: Affiliate links are in use on this page. If you purchase powersheets I will receive a small commission. This does not affect the price you pay and this helps fund running this site.  Thanks!

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DIY holiday centerpiece

December 2
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I was at my parent’s house the other day and my mother gave me a few antique kitchen items and one of the items that stuck out to me was this adorable pie tin. You never see pie plates like this anymore and when she gave it to me I knew I had to find a fun way to showcase it.

Fast forward a week and we were decorating our home for the holidays and I saw the pie tin again. It took it over to my dining table and realized it would make a great part of a centerpiece.

I also knew I wanted something a little bigger than the tin, so I took the round tray I was currently using and placed the tin in the tray. I used a few coasters to raise the tin a little higher to give the centerpiece some, but not too much height. You wanna be able to see the person sitting across from you, right?

I added a set of three candles I already owned the middle as they work great in this space. Once I had my base I added some greenery. I found these sprigs with my holiday decor so I went with them. I wouldn’t mind something less glittery, but I am just going to go with the stuff I already have as it is here and simple. I then added a few sprigs of holly berries and some decorative cinnamon sticks and that is it!

This centerpiece was super simple and made from the pie tin plus stuff I just had around the house. I love thinking a little out of the box and creating like this with things I already have. Hopefully this post can inspire you to look around your home and see what you can use to create your own centerpiece or holiday decor.  If you create something, please tag me in a photo, I’d love to see it! I’m on facebook  @_amberdowns on Instagram.

 

 

DIY farmhouse centerpiece from a vintage pie tin. perfect holiday farm decor for your table.

Diy farmhouse centerpiece

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DIY Popcorn Garland

November 30
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We’re very in to Christmas decorating around here. It is not just me, my husband is 100% in on it too. We love to transform out home in to a holiday escape. In general, most of the decor decisions around here are made by me, but when it comes to the holidays, Charlie likes to have a little more input. So back in October, I asked him what he thought of doing a homemade popcorn garland instead of our usual beads and he seemed interested in the idea, but neither of us did anything about it. Fast forward to the day after Thanksgiving, our traditional decorating day, and as we’re starting to get the tree going, he asks me about the garland. I had forgotten about it until then, but when I saw he was interested I went over to the kitchen, popped some corn, and we went for it. I was lucky that we always make our popcorn from the kernel instead of the bag, so we had plenty on hand. I also had some leftover cranberries just waiting to be used.  So here you have it, our popcorn garland!

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This popcorn garland is super easy to make. In fact, my husband and I whipped it together for our seven foot tree in about an hour.

Supplies:

Note: Popcorn should be plain and free of and butter or oil. We used plain kernels and popped them in our Air Popper. (We LOVE this thing and it is totally worth it if you eat a lot of popcorn.) Day old popcorn will be a little more rubbery and will work better, but we used fresh and it was fine. 

To start grab your needle and thread and make your line. I doubled the thread and knotted it at the bottom to make a thicker garland. We made each of ours approx. 10 feet in length so that it wrapped around well, but wasn’t too long.

Now it is time to start threading the popcorn and cranberries on the line. We did a pattern of five popcorn kernels and then one cranberry, but feel free to experiment with what is best for you. You can even skip the cranberries completely if you’d like. If you find mushy cranberries toss them out.

Keep going until you get to the end. When I get there I used a cranberry at the end and then cut the needle off. I then pulled out of the strings out of the cranberry and tied them together so that the cranberry was a part of the knot.

After we had made out strands we just wrapped them around the tree so that the ends were in the back. Super easy!

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If you wanted to save the garland you could spray it garland with shellac. We skipped this part as I don’t plan on keeping this one; we will just cut it and add it to our compost.

Well there you go, that is how we made this charming garland for our tree. I am honestly surprised it is not more popular of an option with “farmhouse” and “rustic” being so in right now. But hey, more popcorn for me.

Christmas tree diy popcorn and cranberry garland. Perfect for your farmhouse Christmas tree and vintage holiday

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My favorite gifts on Amazon

November 28
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I love Amazon for gifting. I always wait to grab something at the last minute, so with two-day shipping I can get gifts just in the nick of time. Today I am sharing a few of my giftable favorites from Amazon that are perfect for your or a loved one.  Click the link to be directed to my Amazon page where you can see m favorites and what I like about each item.

 

Happy Gifting!

 


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Find these items, as well as my other Amazon favorites here.

 

 

Amazon.con Holiday gift ideas

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Holiday Home Tour 2018

November 25
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Well Thanksgiving is finally over so it is time to decorate for the holidays. I shared about how I decorated my home in 2016, but I wanted to share more about my style and system here again for 2018. My husband and I both love holiday decorating and it is for sure a family affair for us, but we have also been taking the time in recent years to focus on how to decorate and make our home festive without too much effort, space, or time.  In this tour I’ll share tips on how to decorate in a way that is simple and enjoyable without being a burden or making your home look cluttered.

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I love having the Christmas tree in front of a window facing the street. Growing up, we did not have a front window that worked for a tree and I always loved driving by homes with visible trees. Before we even made an offer on our home I knew where our tree would go and we use that spot every year. The tree is at the corner of two windows so it has lots of street visibility to spread lots of holiday cheer. If you don’t have a spot  by the window, no need to fear, it is just something I have always enjoyed. Of course, if you are in the market for a new home, do consider tree placement if that is important to you. Not having a great place for a tree can be super annoying as it leads to the tree aways being in the way and that can start to take some of the joy out of the season.

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We decorate our tree with family ornaments and some fillers. I know trendy trees are always in, but I am not in the market to spend money on pieces that hold not sentimental value and that I will discard after only a few years. This Library of Congress ornament was purchased after we were engaged in their lobby. It is for sure one of my favorites.

If you don’t have family ornaments yet consider asking parents or grandparents if they have some they could hand down to you. We love buying ornaments while traveling  and now have special decorations commemorating our engagement, anniversary, and other special events. This makes our decorating time extra special as we get to reminisce on these events in our lives while we decorate. Oh, and yes, our tree skirt is just an old tablecloth. If you need a skirt check your linen closet. No need to spend money on a fancy one, you probably have something that can be used and then put back. One less thing to store!

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Our decorating tradition is after Thanksgiving, once the guests have left, we have a few drinks and put up the tree. This is special to both of us and something we always do together. As I mentioned before, it is a time to remember the past, celebrate our time together, and get excited for the season ahead of us. Charlie always plays his christmas playlist, and when it is cool enough out we light the fireplace. Afterwards you can usually find us cuddled on the sofa in our holiday pajamas. This is truly one of my favorite parts of the season.

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This year I did go a little further and purchased a small flocked tree for our bedroom. I wanted to add a little bit of holiday twinkle to that space, and this tree was perfect. I added some inexpensive decorations from Amazon and the Dollar Tree and I love how it turned out. Will I keep this tree next year? I don’t know. What I do know is that I will only put it up if I have the time, energy, and space. When decorating becomes work then it is just not worth it.

 

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We have some household decorations which we put out here and there throughout the house. Some of these are heirloom pieces like Charlie’s nutcrackers and some are fun finds. I always like to take a moment when deciding what to put out to think about items that match the feel of the space and are not to distracting. Although I enjoy decor, in the end I still want out home to have a cohesive, relaxing feel. Our goal is for decor to be an accent and not an intrusion. If decorations are to loud we move them or rehome them. Heirloom decorations can be held on to for future use but not put out if needed. I also like to remember that we don’t have to keep everything. Just because a former coworker in 2007 gave us an item does not mean it needs to be on your tree or in your home. Feel free to take a photo and then donate it for someone else to enjoy. (This is totally one of the Marie Kondo tips I love.)

My grandmother gifted her Christmas Village one year. I was so excited to put it up the following year, but it was so much stuff that it ended up being so much work for me. There was so much stuff to go through that it was just overwhelming. I ended up getting rid of most of the “stuff” and just kept the main kit. My grandmother had wanted to get rid of the village, and nobody else wanted it, so I was not offending anyone by cutting dow the collection some. Now I have a nice, easy to store set that I can use or hold on to. We did not put it out this year, but I do intend to keep it for future use.

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When decorating shelves I love to add just a few holiday elements to our usual decor. This add color and a pop without removing all my things. I did this with our coffee bar shelf (below) as well as in our dining room (above).

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Any nicknacks that I replace with holiday decor are placed in one of our decoration tubs. This way when we go to put everything away we will find our other things.  Speaking of storage, when we put everything aways for the season I like to take a few minute to divide the “holiday stuff” by type so that next year I can easily find what I need. I have a tub for main tree ornaments, gifting supplies, home decor, party supplies, and extras. This way I can go in and find what I need without opening everything.

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We do decorate the exterior of our home each year. We just add a simple strand of white LED c9 lights which give our home a classic look. Our personal rule for this, like everything else, is that it only goes up if we have the time and energy. Right now all our decorating work fits in to one day and we enjoy it. Take down is just as easy. I never want to add so much “stuff” that it takes days to remove. It is just not worth it to me.

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How do you handle decorating for the holidays? Do you go all out or keep it simple?

 

My 2019 Planner plan

November 14
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I was in Joann’s the other day and I wandered over to glance at the Happy Planner products. While I was there, it dawned on me that we have just under two months until 2019 and I have not yet bought a new planner. I know it seems like I have tons of time, but in the planner world you usually have your pick by fall as many sell out.

So in store I looked through the planners available and realized I was not really happy with any of them. I liked the “Super Mom” planner, but as I am not a mother I did not really feel that planner was right for me. I also gravitate towards plain, neutral colors. Although I enjoy adding color, I prefer for it to be on my terms not the planner itself.

I left the store empty handed and then turned to Instagram to ask for help. Several followers recommended this extension pack which has the same layout as the Super Mom planner but without the mom stuff. I was hesitant at first about it because it is undated and still has a lot of color, but I decided to bite the bullet and do it.

My plan it to use this as a base and create a fully custom 2019 planner for myself. I will be sharing here on the blog about the building process, so you can see what I am adding and why. I’d like this planner to be part planner/part brain dump/ part file folder for all the important aspects of my home life. I plan to use Happy Planner products alongside items from Etsy and maybe some products I make myself. We’ll see!

So far I have grabbed the extension pack, metal discs, and some plain sheets of paper. Keep an eye out for updates and more about my new planner system.